Ugandans won’t quickly forget Efya Awindor of Ghana. That’s for sure. She came here with relative anonymity. But with the show she put on on Friday night at Serena Hotel Kampala, she earned another fan base, and above all, recognition and respect as one of Africa’s most promising young songstresses.
The concert was organized by Tusker Malt Lager as a gift wrapped for its exclusive TML 100 club members, Tusker Malt Lager had promised a free, all expensive paid night for all its members. I was curious as to how that would pen out. I wouldn’t be a red-blooded Ugandan if I wasn’t a little sceptical. Because here in the Banana republic, ‘Free’ usually comes at a price. Something always gives.
I was pleasantly reassured. From the get-go, Tusker Malt Lager pulled out the special treatment. On arrival, guests, who all were dressed in formal-casual, were handed a cold class of Tusker in the lounge as they waited for the concert to start. All one needed for admittance to the venue was to flash their TML 100 Membership card.
The doors officially opened at 8pm. Draped in green and white decor, Victoria Hall was littered with TML coolers, lean-on tables and waiters making their rounds with an assortment of delicacies and beverages. The hall was substantially packed and you could feel the murmur of excitement.
First Isaiah Katumwa was sent to warm up the crowd. Armed with his saxophone, and his ear to ear grin, he did it with his usual enthusiasm and mastery. The man is the embodiment of musical genius. He performed for close to an hour.
Then came Efya. Clad in a long black dress, she got into the music immediately. With her smooth voice, she performed songs like summer time, blow my mind, thinking about you, little things, will always love you, deception, sexy, among others. Her music is primarily soul; Soul with an African influence. Afro-soul. Her lyrics are a fusion of English, her Ghanaian dialect and the Pidgin English which is a generic trait of West African ethnics.
She occasionally broke into an acapella to showcase her vocal prowess and also stopped to explain the inspirations behind her songs. They largely centred on her experiences back home, love and romance; Notions that everyone was familiar with and could relate to. She also introduced Cindy Sanyu and Lilian Mbabazi whom, little known, she collaborated with back when they were a newly formed BLU-3.
She kept the crowd energized with her enthusiasm and sense of humour and she performed for close to 2 and a half hours. Non-stop. By the time she left the stage it was coming to midnight and the crowd was still asking for one more song. I reckon the crowd was happy with her performance and Tusker too with their investment into the TML 100 club. Tusker Malt Lager brand manager Harry Mwanje seemed satisfied. As he watched on, he mentioned how unprecedented the things Tusker was doing are and that he’s certain it is the beginning of bigger and better things to come for the TML 100 club.
Efya certainly gave her all, and justified the hype across the continent around her. But above all, she gave Ugandan musicians, many of whom were in attendance, a crash-course on how to perform live music. The night’s MC Marcus Kwikiriza made a point on how this was different from the music we are used to; the stale, one dimensional ‘kidandali’ beat that has been the scourge of the Ugandan music industry for many years. He encouraged our musicians to watch carefully and take notes. I hope they did.